According to Scholastic, key findings from the report include:
- Half of all children ages 6–17 (51%) are currently reading a book for fun and another one in five (20%) just finished one.
- Both parents of children ages 6–17 (71%) and kids (54%) rank strong reading skills as the most important skill a child should have. Yet while 86% of parents say reading books for fun is extremely or very important, only 46% of kids say the same.
- Three-quarters of parents with children ages 6–17 (75%) agree “I wish my child would read more books for fun,” and 71% agree “I wish my child would do more things that did not involve screen time."
The fact that more than half of children surveyed are reading for fun is amazing, that is, if you're looking at the glass half-full. But to think that almost just as many kids aren't reading for fun is heart wrenching. And yes, it's great that most parents want to see their children doing things that don't involve a screen, but how on Earth has it gotten to the point that 71% of them are compelled to feel this way? How can parents get their children spending less time in front of a screen and more time reading for fun?
We've all heard the expression "Monkey see, monkey do," and when it comes to reading, it's no different.
As someone who was raised as a bookworm, I will tell you from experience that my parents' reading habits served as the foundation for my own. I can still remember laying in the bed I shared with my sister, our mom sandwiched between us reading aloud while my dad laid at the end of the bed and listened along. I didn't know it then, but those countless nights spent reading with all four of us cramped on a tiny double bed would become some of my most cherished memories of us all together as a family.
When it comes down to it, all it really takes to be a reading role model is a little effort. Here's a couple steps I would recommend to help get the children in your life reading.
Be seen: It's no secret that kids mimic the things they see others do, and this is particularly true for parents. Instead of coming home to plop down in front of a television or laptop, pick up a book and get reading. If you enjoy using eReaders, make sure you tell your kids that you're reading a book, not playing a game. The more kids see you interested in books, the more they will become interested too.
Read aloud: Even better than reading a book in the presence of your children is reading to them. Once your child is old enough, switch roles and have them read aloud to you! This is a great way to spend time with your children while having fun and improving their literacy skills.
Ask questions: When you read a book with your children, be sure to ask them questions to gauge their comprehension and interest in the book. Do you like this book? Who's your favorite character and why? What do you think will happen next? What is one thing you could ask the author if you could talk to him or her? Do you think this book would be a good movie?
The power of choice: According to Scholastic, 91% of kids say that their favorite books are the ones that the pick out themselves. What better way to do that than by bringing the children in your life to local libraries and book stores?
Take a look at some of the graphs Scholastic generated showing what affects children's reading habits:
I invite you to share your experience of being a reading mentor with me on Facebook or Twitter, using #TessaFoxReads. Tomorrow is National Readathon Day and a great time to get your little ones (and yourself) reading!